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The #1 Reason Why Top Talent Leaves An Organisation

Alexandria Joy - Monday, May 13, 2013
The world’s high profile and top earning companies are not immune to the everyday challenges that the rest of the business realm experiences. They too can suffer a hard time maintaining highly talented employees; even the cream of the crop in the most senior positions can end up leaving their office with a view, and 7+ figure annual salary. 

So why do the best and brightest walk out the door despite having been courted by their organisation and paid huge sums of money? Basically they leave for the same reasons as everyone else – poor people management and a lack of inspiration.

Five reasons top talent heads for the door 

Forbes.com lists the top reasons why large companies lose their top talent as:

  1. Big company bureaucracy – Being told to follow the rules that make no sense leaves employees (even senior ones) with a feeling that they lack input.
  2. Failing to find a project that ignites the passion of their talent – Top talent isn’t driven by money and power, but by the opportunity to be a part of something huge, that will change the world, and for which they are really passionate. Failing to ask top employees if they’re enjoying their current projects can mean those employees become disenfranchised and then decide to move on.
  3. Poor annual performance reviews – A rushed review leaves the impression that the boss really isn’t interested in the employee’s long-term future with the company.
  4. No discussion around career development – Go-getters want to have discussions with their leaders about their career paths. However, most managers never engage with their employees about where they see their careers heading.
  5. Shifting whims – Top talent hates to be ‘jerked around’. If you commit to a project that they will be heading up, you’ve got to give them enough opportunity to deliver what they’ve promised.
Read the full article to find out five more reasons why top talent often heads for the door.

Banish the bureaucracy 

The number one reason why top talent jumps ship, is not surprising.  As a company culture coach (and earlier in my career in the corporate world), I have seen (and experienced firsthand) businesses driven by Container Managers. Container Managers thrive in their environment by creating boundaries and setting clear-cut procedures to communicate “how things must be done”. 

While it is important to set boundaries, often this culture becomes so dominant that employees lose sight of the outcomes and the possibilities of growth and innovation because they are so focused on the process and “getting things done” on time and to budget.  Think about how this would make you feel day after day. Bored? Uninspired? 

A waste of your skills and talent? 

On the flipside, organisations that breed Expander Leaders develop a culture of growth, autonomy, and uniqueness. They focus on the possibilities rather than on the action of getting things done “the right way”.  Their employees feel inspired, motivated, and able to contribute creatively to the growth of the business. 

Engage your staff and retain your talent

What does this mean for you and your organisation? Retaining highly skilled and talented staff boils down to workplace culture. Work at a distance from your staff and be prepared to lose a few people in the process. Engage your people, allow them to use their experience and talents to create and innovate within your organisation and you will not only tap into their personal UQ Power, you will harness and retain your most valuable asset. 

Leave me a comment or question below and I'll be sure to answer - we can all learn from each other's experiences.

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Sue Painter commented on 15-May-2013 12:33 AM
#s 1, 3, and 5 sent me running into entrepreneurship. NO thinking out of the box was possible in the corporate world. Ick.
Anonymous commented on 15-May-2013 03:23 PM
Yes Sue sadly you are not along as these are all too common. We all need to have environmments where we are encouraged to think outside the box or as I would all it getting out of your skin.
Jennifer Longmore commented on 15-May-2013 08:55 PM
#1 and #2 were my issues, but I'm grateful that those were my catalyst b/c I'm enjoying a rockin' biz now xxoo
Mary Ellen Miller commented on 17-May-2013 05:52 AM
Actually I think I was a #4 in reflecting back on the traditional workplace. I always wanted to see where I was headed and when I couldn't see a path upward I got out and forged my own! Thanks for the thought provoking piece Heidi.
Bill Painter commented on 18-May-2013 11:45 AM
1, check; 2, check; 3, check; 4, check; 5, check. Seems like this was my last company's manual for treating employees.
Mira commented on 18-May-2013 11:09 PM
Good article and right on target. All of these contributed to my desire to be my own boss so in the end it worked out but at the time it was often frustrating.
Trudy Scott commented on 19-May-2013 04:09 AM
#2 was my issue. This really speaks to me: "the opportunity to be a part of something huge, that will change the world, and for which they are really passionate"
Mitch Tublin commented on 20-May-2013 10:43 AM
If you expect top talent to stick around they need to work on projects which they get excited about, they nee to know they are appreciated and they need to be empowered to get things done.

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